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Unions and Women

Yesterday, CEPR released a new report [pdf] I wrote on the positive effects of unions on the wages and health and pension benefits of women workers.

Women now make up 45 percent of all union workers, and if the trend of the last 25 years continues, women will be a majority of the unionized workforce by 2020. By CEPR's estimate, unionization raises the average woman's wages by about 11 percent, the probabilty that she has health insurance by 19 percentage points, and the probability of having a pension by 25 percentage points.

These benefits of unionization compare well even to the payoff from going to college. Joining a union, for example, has roughly the same effect on a woman's wages as attending a single year of college. And a union job actually has a bigger impact on a woman's likelihood of having health insurance or a pension than if she gets a four-year college degree.

The report has already received some nice attention: a great op-ed by Jill Esbenshade and Doreen Mattingly in the San Diego Union-Tribune; a nice post on feministing by Jessica Valenti; and posts at Feminist Majority, Ms. Magazine, pushback, Labor is Not a Commodity, and elsewhere.

UPDATE 12/04/08: Girl With Pen now has a post on the piece, including a short interview with me.